Friday … Watching Loneliness Vanish … That Moment of Silence

SONY DSCCourtesy: Curve of the Earth (Archives)

Damn … It is COLD outside. We are sitting at (-17c/-23c w.c.) Winds are light, but it is still Frigid.

The week ended in a flurry of people, places and meetings.

The Work continues as new folks have been introduced into our sober family.

Pigeons have pigeons, which means we all have considerable work to do.

Friday is always the best day / night of the week.

I quadruple layered for my trip tonight, and yes, the rubber boots came in very handy.

Or should I say, Footy !!!

They keep my feet nice and toasty, not to mention warm European sox to go with them. A good portion of my wardrobe comes from other places.

I departed early because of snow en route. Tonight’s theme was, “you just missed the train …”

Both going and on my return, there were trains in the station, but my timing was a little off, because I watched them all leave without me, and I had to wait and entire cycle for a train. During rush hour, trains run every 3 to 4 minutes. Off hours trains run every 6 to 9 minutes.

Up on the North End, they are still plowing snow. It was piled up all over the place. The mini dozers were corralling snow for later pick up tonight. Which made it tricky for buses so they dropped us on the street, outside the berms.

We sat a large crowd as usual. And as I said, Friday is the best night of the week.

Every meeting begins the same way, but Friday, is a little different.

This is the place that all our friends come to. It is the rallying point for the weekend. Fellowship after the meeting is part and parcel of going to the Friday meeting. It is part and parcel for many meetings, it gives our young people stuff to do outside the meeting.

When we sit together, around the table, there are small table lights on the tables, and not that oppressive overhead fluorescent light. We call it Mood Lighting …

The chair rings the bell, and calls the room to attention, makes the necessary announcements. Then invites everyone to take a moment of silence before we say the Serenity Prayer.

And I wait all week for this one moment.

Our collective, friends, family, fellows and elders, take a deep breath and center ourselves for a moment, chairs go quiet, the room gets quiet, and for that moment it feels like we are ONE.

Then the chair calls for prayer, and it is spiritual song.

It is that way at every meeting, and everybody is important. Every moment of silence to think perhaps of someone out there or in here who is suffering …

The sound of my friends voices is music to my ears. This is the one night where we are all together in the same room at the same time. One says that “there is an energy in the room, that is palpable.”

The reading, from A.B.S.I. Watching Loneliness Vanish.

People drank to escape, People drank to be alone. At the bitter end, we are all alone, in varying degrees, suffering and lonely. We hear the common story from old timers about the slogan, that isn’t on a placard in many meetings, however it can be found,

“YOU ARE NOT ALONE ANY MORE.”

It is better to be on the inside, I heard it again tonight. I heard another young person speak about The Work Passionately, and suggest, quite seriously, that The Work is the way to go. That it saved their life after returning from a devastating slip.

Proviso … Sober people get lonely too. It is not uncommon.

That little voices tells us we are different and have nothing in common with others, which in turn, keeps us from connecting and engaging. And little by slowly, the space grows between people, and if that space gets wide enough, a slip is not that far off.

People suffer from “I am unique” and “I like to be alone and isolate.” Our young women are devastated by these ideas. They seem to suffer more the terminal uniqueness than do our young men. But we do find our men, don’t connect right away either, that takes time.

The girls feel, too much, the boys think, they over think too much. Both troublesome problems.

I tell and retell this story over and over, and it still gets discussion.

The first time I got sober, I was waiting to die. I was going to meetings in a hall that treated me like a race horse, with wagers on my head as to when I would skip out and drink again.

So that first year was a lap around the race track, and on my anniversary, I took that chip and told the guys there to go Fuck themselves… I never went back to that meeting. I had a job that I loved. I was well cared for. Everyone was sober, my sponsor worked there as well. I was safe for those two years.

I had everything I ever needed or wanted. I had a safety net that kept me alive, fed and sober.

When that run ended and I was the only one who did not go West, I was alone, and left to my own devices. I did not carry what I had inside forwards. i was clueless about what I was supposed to do with nobody to help me do it.

(Read: Move city, Move House, carry a life forwards, stay sober).

Remember I lived in the South, technically. Florida was South, and people were as ignorant and heartless as they were all over the deep red south.

At the two year mark, I was asked to speak to a particular meeting. Of course I said yes.

What I did not think about was disclosure and how that would go over.

There were a couple hundred folks in the meeting. As I was telling my story, the men began to get up and leave the hall, 100 men got up and left the hall while I was speaking. When I finished, I went outside to find them waiting for me. One stepped up and said …

“We don’t respect people like you, please leave this place and don’t come back.”

Go get sober some place else.

Now, I am a twenty something kid, with a bulls eye on my back. I was alone. New to the area and that meeting hall, I did not know anyone except a couple of folks. And they tell me to leave and not come back.

I was lonely, I was alone. Fighting a battle by myself, one to stay sober, the other was to stay alive.

The loss of my sober family and secondly, this toss off comment, drove me out the door and into a slip that almost killed me, because I went looking for something to make me NOT alone, it was the biggest mistake I ever made in my life.

Insert Slip Story Here … I’m not gonna tell it

On my way back, I had three friends. Two were out of sight and out of mind, the third was my drinking/drugging buddy. I lived alone, I worked alone, I had no life, and so I went to the club every Saturday night with my buddy. He would dope up and I would drink myself black.

Delusional thoughts of if I drink enough, they will notice me and take me in. If I drink enough, I will never grow up and I will become part of the “beach crowd.” None of those things happened.

I knew the last drink, when it came. I prayer for deliverance via another alcoholic.

He came.

I went to my first gay meeting. That did not go so well. Nobody noticed me. So I sat outside the hall until the 10 p.m. meeting where Fonda, Ed and Rob and Christian found me, alone on the stoop.

Fonda gave me a hug, and welcomed me into the room and brought me coffee.

They noticed me. And from that moment, I was never alone again.

With some time, I arrived here, sadly, a second time, I heard another alcoholic tell me to go get sober somewhere else. That I was unwelcome in their meeting. I never went back there to this day.

You want to alienate a human being who is new, alone, and seeking help,

Tell them to go get sober somewhere else.

It is a good thing I stuck around. I tell this story as a warning to the pitfalls of the human condition in the rooms. You need to connect, because there are sick alcoholics in some rooms. And they justify their ignorance behind sexism, homophobia, egos and attitudes. Good Christian values.

I did all the right things. I met all the right people. I owe my life to the fellowship in Montreal.

I’ve never been more happier than I am today. I am in it to win it. I do what I am told.

We are deep in The Work. All of us. Nobody is alone in our sober family.

NOBODY…

Now that I work with others, and I give it away, and I teach The Work to my guys, they are now teaching The Work to their guys. We are four generations strong tonight.

We are part of a grand collective of many faiths, hearts, traditions and languages.

Unified under a common affliction. And we deal with it together as one.

Nobody is left out in the cold. Our men and women know they are no longer alone.

You too can Never be alone again …

Gratitude. Lots of Gratitude.

More to come, stay tuned…

December 9th 2014 … Thirteen

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Courtesy: Billy Pazionis Flickr

I offer you “Thirteen” a retrospective.

In May of 2013, I had been at Tuesday Beginners for eleven years. The New York women came to us and I began to watch them and listen to them. I watched what they did for a while and I longed for that kind of life to come to me.

The end of May came with the West Island Round Up. And I heard Lorna Kelly speak, along with a host of others from New York. And I learned, much to my dismay, that I’d been warming a seat for years, and not really doing anything about it. Comfortable at just being a talking head and showing up and doing service.

One of the men who spoke talked about prayer … I prayed, but not with the intensity or meaning that our man was trying to get across to the people sitting in front of him while he spoke. Three, Seven and Eleven, every day, like you mean it. You have the book, why aren’t you working it?

This is how we do it.

THIS IS HOW WE DO IT !!!

Are you listening??

I faded from my then sponsor and decided to go it alone. It was time. Days, turned into weeks, which turned into months. I changed up my meetings, added the Friday A.B.S.I. meeting, and I was doing the work, praying and being present for my friends.

In the Summer of 2013, I decided to leave Tuesday Beginners, opting for the “other” beginners meeting that was on earlier, because that is where my friends were, or, more to the point, the young men of that I needed in my life and it ended up, this meeting carried me through some tough times. And I gave back to that meeting.

On my 12th anniversary, December 9th 2013, I asked a friend to give me my chip, so it went. Since then, Vendome Beginners moved to the location we are at now, albeit in smaller numbers, we have a committed group of folks who come week in and week out.

There was an old timer there, who had the years, and I was in the market for a new sponsor, in January this year, we went to lunch and he interviewed me for the position. He had a few rules that I must agree to follow. I was supposed to call him every day for a month. I did that. At the end of the month, on the last day, I called him, and he said to me that I did not have to call him anymore. And I was like “What?” But I want to call you every day. That was the answer he was looking for.

It has been close to a year, and I call him every day. He also started me on the journey with the Men’s Intensive Big Book, Steps, Study. We have been working our steps in tandem with each other. My sponsors sponsor, my sponsor, and then myself. I had been doing the work, praying and acting As If.

And God seemed to be pleased because he sent me young men to work with, something my life had lacked for all the years I was sober. They have taught me many things, about themselves, and about myself, and about us.

In May of 2014, he invited me to my first Men’s Intensive Weekend at Mad River Barn, in Vermont. Being the only Queer in the bunch, I told them my stories about getting sober in certain groups. And the fact that people sent me away because I was gay! That changed everything. It was the first weekend where men from other places listened to me and spoke kindness to me. I came home from that weekend with lessons I still use today. I work the same way with my guys, that my sponsor works with me.

The weekend after then Men’s Intensive, it was my hope to share a round up with my guys. It was an ok weekend. The singleness of purpose problem was a barrier for my guys, and they felt left out of the US and segregated to just them and the just us club. But the message was clear from the Atlantic Group.

The Mantra was “THE WORK.”

Since May I have talked about the work, and how that has panned out over the past seven months. In October of 2014, we again returned to Mad River for the Fall Men’s Intensive weekend. Sadly, that would be the last time we visited that Inn. This time around, I was asked to speak. Actually, before I even got home from the Intensive in May, an invitation to speak was waiting for me when I got home. So I had months to prepare. I did not get a notice on what I would be speaking on in any case.

Half our number came for the weekend. People were not pleased with the Inn from the last visit and the price had gone up considerably. Nonetheless, I was the opening presenter for Steps One and Two for the weekend.

I met some of the same men as the first time, but also got to meet several other men who had come for the first time. I had been working my steps, working with my guys, and I talked about that with the guys, a handful of them disagreed with my style and approach, and voiced those opinions.

My Sponsor listened to what I had said and told me to ignore them.What I was doing was working, so don’t get caught up in old men being pissy.

On the way to the Mad River Barn, My sponsor, myself and a friend, took an excursion to East Dorset Vermont to visit Bill’s House, where he was born and was raised. We also visited Bill’s and Lois’s grave with a group of women making an intensive weekend there at the house. It was a life changing event for me, and for all those who were there.

Standing on Bill’s Grave, speaking about recovery, to others present, changed my life. I had the opportunity to visit the man who started it all. Then attend an intensive weekend, and then bring all that home for my guys, my friends, my fellows, the list goes on and on. On the way home from that weekend, we visited the next site of the Men’s Intensive for Spring 2015. A little place called Saint Anne’s Shrine in Vermont. About an hours drive from here.

We have celebrated Thanksgiving and we are coming up on Christmas.

Three seems to be the magic number for me. A few weeks ago, I was introduced to a man who came to our Sunday night meeting, and since. I’ve become his sponsor. You loose one, God gives you another one. They say, when you work with others that, you might find folks to work with, and they might decide that drinking is far more fun, and take leave of you. But when one goes, there is always someone waiting in the wings to take their place. And so that has happened.

The Pre-Cake roller coaster did not take off this year.

There were no massive upheavals, no major issues, no major problems. It has been a slow burn. However, this year, I have not only had myself to work with, but my guys and my sponsor. I’ve really had no down time to think of myself. When the phone rings, it rings, I answer.

It is one thing to be present for your own sobriety, it is totally a different fish, when you are accountable to young men with whom you work with. They call every day. We talk every day, except when life takes precedence. I meet my guys once a week to talk, to read the Book, and to do Step Work. One of my guys moved to the states, this past fall for his M.A. so we Skype every week.

Thank God for technology and sponsorship.

They have totally kept me on my toes and busy with something to do and something new to think about on a daily basis. Working with others is the greatest joy you can have in sobriety. Because it isn’t about me, it’s about them. I’ve truly grown this year, in ways I couldn’t have imagined. All because I have done my work.

Now they do their work.

Continuing the story … This post is a two parter. It is Tuesday and mother nature dropped snow on us today. A little worried about people not coming, my sponsor says … “We went to any length to drink, snow or whatever, people will come, don’t fret!”

Our usual group of folks came. We called New Foundland to talk to one of our women who is up there with her new daughter, and I thought that it would be nice for all of us to talk to her, so we did that. Have phone will chat !!!

We covered the second half of Step twelve. There were lots of laughs and giggles, but it was all business.

So what can I say for sobriety, I am in my steps. My sponsees are in their steps. My sponsor is in his steps. We’ve now heard the steps presented three times in the last year. Twice in an intensive weekend, and once at our meeting for twelve weeks.

This journey to where I am today, started some time ago, and only now can I say, I’ve reaped the rewards of really working my sobriety for all its worth. No roller coaster, no drama. Everything is where it should be and all is well in my world.

It was bittersweet because one of my friends, who was sober, when I FIRST got sober, was here tonight. He got stuck in the revolving door for a long time, and now he is back. He’s got six months. And I think about him a lot. Had he stuck and stayed he would be long sober, longer than I am today, had he stayed. But he didn’t.

I did everything I was told to do. I’ve been blessed to be able to maintain the sober schedule I built thirteen years ago. And I did not deviate from that schedule. Ever. I stayed sober. Many of my friends did not.

What did I do right, and what did they do wrong?

We are all suffering alcoholics. Some got better, some didn’t. At least tonight, all in our number are alive, well and sober.

I am very grateful for all that I have.

Thanks for reading. More to come, stay tuned …

"The Work …" Courtesy of The Atlantic Group NYC

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Courtesy: Tyler Oakley

O.M.G. I am SPENT !!! Spent I tell you…

This weekend Dorval hosted the 40th Annual West Island Roundup. And our guests came from New York City, and the Gigantic – Atlantic Group of New York City.

They have meetings SEVEN nights a week, and the most anticipated meeting of the week brings out 600, yes that’s SIX HUNDRED people for a meeting.

Imagine a meeting that size here. I don’t think there is a hall open in our city that would hold that many people. HUGE !!!

The theme of the speakers was “The Work.”

You have to Do the Work. In order to be happy, joyous and free, you need to do “the work.” It was a similar message from all our speakers.

Last night, Saturday, we heard from the Founder of the Atlantic Group.

Today we heard from similar group members.

This morning our first speaker right out of the gate got up there and knocked it out of the park. Once that meeting was finished, the copies of his talk went up in smoke. They could not keep up with demand. And by the end of the day they took payment, addresses and told us that they would send us the talk, for those of us who bought ALL of the talks for the weekend.

Our guy got up there and extolled the virtues of “the work” and how it changed his life, from the life he was stuck in, using, abusing and hurting the ones who loved him, not to mention himself. That group is known for its bent on unapologetic Big Book Thumping.

The message here: Don’t waste your time with folks who don’t want it, because there is always someone in the wings waiting for you to work with them.

The odds of success are slim from the start. The percentages are not good. 1%

That only should embolden you to get up from your seat, get a book, and find someone to walk you through it.

Later on this morning we heard from an Al-Anon speaker.

And then they served everyone lunch from Scores restaurant. The place was packed for today’s events.

After lunch we got a One Two Punch by a couple who met in the Atlantic Group and later got married. We got to hear how a long sober couple works together in love and how they work with others.

Us alcoholics suffer from a hopeless malady of the body, mind and spirit.

And the way out of that misery and malady is through the solution that is laid out in the first 164 pages of the Big Book.

I spent the entire weekend with my friends. The people I love the most. The people who give to my life those things that nobody else can give me.

And a year to the date, exactly, I got to share this weekend with my guys. We listened, we chatted, we broke bread, and we discussed.

It is my hope that this weekend made some kind of impression on them that they can take into their lives and their respective sobrieties.

A year ago, I attended my first round up and it turned my world upside down. And I started doing “the work,” truthfully, I had a sponsor that was a hands off kind of sponsor, who really didn’t do “the work.” So I began to move away.

I changed up my meetings, I practiced my prayers for a year. I read the book. I participated in the lives of newbies for months. That is how I began “the work.”

I practiced until God put a new sponsor into my life. And after that my life changed again.

After 12 or so years, two men stepped into my life, and I got the opportunity to start “The Work” with them. Nothing makes sobriety more important or special that having someone to work with. Because they keep me on my toes. I must now do “The Work.” I must have a sponsor who does “The Work.”

I am, what they call, SANDWICHED…

I have a grand sponsor, I have a sponsor, I have myself, and I have my guys.

Not to mention all the others I work with or I am friends with. All those folks who come to my meetings, that I see every week. Meetings are important.

But more importantly, the guy who opens the door, sets up, makes coffee, welcomes guests, reads, shares, discusses, and then cleans up afterwards.

If there is no one there to do “The Work,” If there is no one to welcome the newcomer, then how would we survive? How would they survive without us?

Thankless jobs, but so vitally important. I have done that for the whole of my sobriety. Week in and week out. Month by month, year by year.

It is unrelenting work.

And in the end it all comes down to gratitude. Because I am only carrying on “the Work” that was shown to me by those who did “the work” before me.

And this weekend, I got to spend time with the one woman who welcomed me to my first meeting at the home group I began here in the city. She lives far away now and I don’t get to see her very often, so that was a treat.

It was a great weekend. And my batteries are charged. And so commences “The Work” that will carry us for the next year.

It was a great investment of time, talent and treasure for my guys.

And to close I got an email from the member who drove them out and took them home all weekend. saying how impressed she was with my guys’ kindness.

A great weekend was had by all.

IT IS TIME TO DO “THE WORK !”

Let us begin anew.

More to come, I am sure…

A Grateful Heart … Day 24 of 365

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Courtesy: Alexander

Another cold night. But not as cold as it was last night.

We are sitting at (-11c / -21c w.c.) and they are calling for snow. Not sure how they are working that one out I guess we will see.

The running joke in sober circles is this … If you can’t come up with a topic that isn’t half bad or useful to the group, the default is Gratitude…

And the people groan in their chairs …

I have to look and see just how many times the subject of gratitude comes up in As Bill Sees It. It is timely since the last few weeks of readings, it was bound to come up sooner or later.

Firstly, it is Friday and I had done laundry yesterday and all my shopping so I had not much to do today, so I slept in. Meaning I skipped my morning routine again. My bed is much warmer with me in it, than when I am sitting here in front of this box.

Hubby came home at his usual time, and joined me for the afternoon nap period, usually if I am up we take an afternoon nap. But because this was a meeting night, nap is earlier and shorter. Twice I got up and pushed back my alarm. I had the half mind to stay in bed and not get up but that is not a good reason to skip a meeting.

I got up at the latest prep point to be out the door by 6:30. Which I made with no problem. Transit was quick and easy. Lots of people in the stations – but the trains were not packed.

I arrived at my usual time to my friends joking and cutting the rug and we finished set up between a handful of guys. Lots of irreverent jokes being shared.

It was a full meeting. However not full enough to warrant splitting the group into two.

Every day is a day to be grateful. It is an unspoken gratitude.

Coming from a country where I had to choose whether to buy food, or pay my rent or purchase much needed medication that I so needed, I came here where those questions were settled on the first day I got here.

I have a home. I have food that I purchased in my fridge. And I can afford all of my medication every month. And they say the U.S. affords everyone what they need, when they need it.

Not so for people with terminal illnesses who live below the poverty level in a country that boasts that everyone is taken care of. Not True …

I am still alive. And that is the base for everything else. Everything else is icing on the cake. Along with Awakenings came lessons that were so very important for me to learn right off the bat.

Over there —> under the title The Lesson about Approval is one of them.

I can’t begin to put to words the amount of gratitude I have for the men who kept me alive and focused on living when everyone else around me was dying horrible, painful deaths. Why I was chosen is beyond me. Not everyone had the willpower to commit to living, and they made their exit choices. Those choices were removed from me from the get go.

I would live, they would see to it, and wild horses would not stop the march into life that took place.

I may not openly live in gratitude on any given day, because I am enjoying certain aspects of ability that have come by way of work and sobriety and lets not forget marriage.

I may not practice full gratitude on any given day, I am blessed to have everything I need today, I just don’t make use of everything on any given day. It doesn’t mean I am not grateful.

My cup overflows.

I accept where I am today. There is nothing I really need beyond what I have, but on the odd occasion I add to my list of “things” I like and want. But those wants are very small, I don’t live in want.

On the main, it is simple, I don’t have to be popular. I don’t have to be rich. And I don’t need any more letters added to my already hard learned degrees I have earned.

I’ve seen what higher education does to people. It makes them crave more, and it feeds their egos, and people become “better than” and that happened in my social circle. Friends I have had since I got here have excelled in their studies and no longer take the time to be my friend. They have far bigger fish to fry, and why do they need to associate with me now?

People like that you have to let go and give them to God and wish them all the good things that you want for yourself. The resentment prayer …

I hope you get all those things I want for myself and more …

My friends who know me joke to me “Let it Go and Turn it over…”

It is a mantra that is passed between us in lighthearted conversations and even on the odd day by text. Little reminders that we do think of each other and we take each other seriously, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously.

I am grateful for every person I know in the rooms. I watch them come in and come to, then eventually they find their voice. Which is what happened on Thursday night. A young man I am getting to know has been around for a few weeks, and he comes in and says little. And for the first time the other night, he spoke. And tonight at the Friday meeting I was able to speak to him and congratulated him on finding his voice.

I get to see all this going on around me. So many people to be grateful for because they are my friends. You just can’t be a part of this circle and NOT be grateful, simply…

It is the weekend.

More to come, stay tuned …

 

 

Tuesday … Avoiding Self Pity

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Courtesy: ConnorJon

For the last week we have been monitoring the weather very closely because of rules and regulations at the parish where the Tuesday Meeting meets. We’ve shopped for mats for wet shoes, and tonight we got a blessed BUMP in numbers. Me thinks my flyers are doing their thing well. I have to thank my elves the next time I see them for distribution.

So, it is snowing. The first big snow event of 2013 for Montreal has begun. Some say straight snow, the tv people say it will be a mixed bag, but the number 20 is being bandied about as in 20 cm of snow in total in a 48 hour snow event with rain and freezing pellets to come, so they say.

When I left it was cold, but not freezing cold, as you would expect before a snowfall. And that little temperature difference can make a difference between snow or rain. Instead of rail, I opted for the bus, since it drops me at the corner of the parish we meet in. I was carrying an armful of mats for the church, so I wanted the easiest transit.

When we came out, there was a light dusting of snow on the ground, and the kids at the Manoir Judo/karate school were tossing snowballs at each other.

Like I said, we doubled our attendance tonight. Which was the most folks we have hosted at the new location since our move.

The topic came from Living Sober: Avoiding Self Pity.

I have to say that my defects of character and my foibles are really presenting themselves to me over the past couple of weeks. I posted a rant, which I should have thought better of, but it did garner one response that kicked me in the ass…

Have I really forgotten what it was like to be a newbie???

I deleted said post, and along with that the comment, I should have kept it so I could have thanked the poster for the kick in the ass.

My pre-cake roller coaster is running swift and painfully through my life right now. I am not happy with my self review. I am not happy with where I am in my life, and as I was reminded tonight, I had the power to change it, and I sat on my hands waiting for someone or something to drop out of the sky and fulfill the desire I had for New York Style Sobriety.

There are old timers in my life. Men I can learn from. They all attend the Thursday Night Men’s meeting. They are my friends.

It is just what it is.And it’s the truth …

New York Came to Montreal, and when they left, so did their energy and power. Nobody I know reaches into the depths of study nor works as hard as some of our intrepid storytellers.

And for me it was all or nothing.

I could do New York, by skype and email and on the phone. I chose not to do that, because I did not want a long distance relationship with someone in another country.

In my head, I feel I am lacking in my program. I feel like I am going to meetings, and I drop counsel whenever possible, but does it matter? Do I make a difference? Do I matter? Doesn’t this wreak of “All about me?”

You can’t sit in all about me when you are working to serve other folks. Which is why I go to meetings and I talk, and I help with group responsibilities. This is not all about me, but my disease wants me to sit in this pity pot and say WHY ???

Another member would tell me “Why Not?”

Others would say … Get out of yourself.

Another suggests practicing Gratitude more often.

I am where I am, and as the Acceptance Statement says:

Nothing, Absolutely Nothing happens in God’s World by Mistake.”

I seem to have words for other people.

I just don’t seem to have them for myself.

I have the holy trinity … A roof, food in my fridge and a bed to sleep in.

For the first time in 12 years, “Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us,” has come to pass. It took twelve years for this promise to come to pass.

Taken to bare bones and simple thought … I haven’t had a drink in almost 12 years. Not that I even ponder a drink, but when that pity pot voice starts to talk, it is akin to taking a drink.

Poor me, Poor me, Pour me a drink …

Go to a meeting, I am sure there will be someone who is worse off than you and you can get out of yourself and help them.

I did that tonight. I rode the bus, with a friend. On the way out I met a lady friend on the bus from T.B. and that was nice.

It is snowing. My Ave Maria moment happened.

I am where I am, and I should be satisfied with that.

I could be sick. I could drink. And really, I could be dead as well.

My days are book-ended by pills. That keep me alive.

They are still working. Gratitude…

Plenty more to come, stay tuned …

Introspection – What do I do Now ???

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Courtesy: Billy Pazionis Flickr

It was another glorious day today. Fresh Air and Blue skies…

It was a busy day today running errands and taking care of business here at home. Finances have been tight and the promise of ” fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us” comes to light in such situations. It is good to be UP on financial responsibilities and on top of the bills and home finances.

I was a little late tonight, having to make stops on the way that took longer than I had expected, because they could not find my huge bag filled with pills in the mass of bags that had been filled recently at the pharmacy. I saw new faces behind the wicket so that was the challenge.

It seems the mall is in the final stages of preparation for the BIG REVEAL that is coming very soon now. The spaces on the mezzanine level outside of IGA and Pharmaprix are coming along. The ground floor is still in process as I noticed tonight that they are again working on the floor and other shop spaces that were open are now blocked off and being worked on.

Set up went quickly. And I set out more than enough tables tonight, almost begging God to bring us more folks tonight. I am of the mind that “If you build it, they will come!” and come they did. We sat a fair number tonight.

Most of our guests, aside from the group members who have considerable time, are new to the program. A good sign, that we have work to do and people to work with.

Our chair for the evening spoke to us in opening the floor to discussion with recent events that will translate into a topic.

A number of his sponsees are working their steps, and having transited 4 through 9 – the actual writing and inventory and personal house cleaning they have reached the “MAINTENANCE” steps … 10, 11 and 12.

And the question invariably comes up … “What do I do now?”

We’ve just spent the better part of our sober time working on ourselves and writing the garbage that was our past on to paper and we’ve made lists of character defects and shortcomings, we’ve discussed them with our sponsors and each other, and we step into the final part of recovery.

Most people who get here get the stock answer … “let’s turn to page 84 in the Big Book and let’s read the Tenth Step.”

“Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it …”

For the women, who really know how to pound the book, would tell us that this is a written step that one does every day. To actually sit down and write a tenth step in order to speak it to our sponsors the next day during our appointed call time. For those of you paying attention … The women are always working on something. And calling every day EVERY DAY, is standard operating procedure.

Most men do not call each other every day or every other day for that matter.

We read from the book, on ten, making that impromptu inventory, we then set it to prayer and meditation (step 11) and we go to meetings and we work with others (step 12).

In the beginning we rely on the book and a good sponsor to guide us into the parts of the book that will, over time, become rote. We learn what it means to work 10, 11 and 12, we read the book, we act it out for ourselves, and each other and we carry the message to others coming up the ranks.

Once we’ve taken the inventory steps and done the work, we know a little about who we were, what happened and we now sit with what we are like now. And in some cases, here is where we get our lives handed back to us to actively work towards building the life we have been promised in the book.

And it is work. But it is not the big, bad and demeaning work, but it is positive and uplifting and enhancing to our sobriety. We have, for some, found a power greater than ourselves that we turn our lives over to every day, for most, it is God, but there are some, as I have said recently, cannot find God, if he came down from heaven and stood in front of them …

But I digress …

On a daily basis now, we take spot inventory during our day. We notice where we might be off and where an amend might be prudent. And I’ve heard it said over and over, if you are having a bad day … You CAN start your day over at any time of the day as needed.

There is also the practice of writing a gratitude list every day, to keep us mindful of all the good things in our lives on a daily basis.

We should, by now, have begun the formation of spiritual practice. Post finding that power greater than yourself we learn how to pray, for those who may not know how to pray or who to pray to, the universe, God or something that brings you peace and comfort.

For me that is God.

A while back a good lady friend of mine gave me a package of prayer cards, 12 in fact. A prayer for each step and a few dropped in here or there. I keep these cards by the computer and I read them every morning and every night before bed. A little help in the prayer department never hurt.

They say that Prayer is the speaking to God bit, but after we’ve spoken our words, we should cultivate “time to listen” for an answer. And that is where meditation comes in. (Step 11)

“Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood him. praying only for knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry that out.”

Prayer comes in many forms and can be done throughout the day and night, as we learn how to incorporate this practice into our lives. The serenity prayer is very popular. For the religious members, The Our Father and other assorted prayers come to mind.

And now, we should have, as I have mentioned in the past, built our lives around our meetings, and namely our Home Group. A Home Group is a non-negotiable night. You always attend your home group, because that is where we get connected and we learn to do service.

Because it is in working with others, that we get to practice the 12th Step.

“Having had a spiritual awakening as THE result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and practice these principles in all our affairs.”

Nothing guarantees our sobriety like direct work with another alcoholic. If we have read the book, worked with our sponsors and gone to enough meetings, and we have come – we’ve come to – and we’ve been restored to sanity, we get to share our experience with others who come up behind us.

Our lives, our stories, the what, where, who, when and why of our stories is what makes us who we are. And at some point, someone is going to ask you to share/speak at a meeting. I would say that when we speak, we have arrived.

We’ve spent hours, days, weeks and months talking in discussion meetings, We’ve been a numerous speaker meetings, we’ve been to Big Book and Step meetings, and all along, we are working on ourselves.

We have, in essence, been polishing the diamond that is our lives, with a little help from the God of our understanding, and each other.

The final three steps are meant to get us into the practice of actively living and working a sober lifestyle. It is our choice what we do with our lives, once we’ve cleared the wreckage of the past.

The promises state that (in time) we will not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it.

We are not who we were, or what we did or what we have said.

You are WHO you are at this very moment. Right now, as you read this. It was your choice to change and your choice to cultivate the life you are now living.

I have said over and over that there is no greater blessing than to attend the same meetings over the years and watching folks get sober.

Because when they come in they are sad and disillusioned. They come, they come to and they begin the work. And in time, the gem begins to appear and over time that gem gets polished, and in the end it sparkles with the life that has been renewed and that is YOU.

Embrace the 10th, 11th and 12th steps.

They will dictate the person you become, as you work the program.

It was a good night.

Now it is time for dinner. More to come, stay tuned …

Sunday Sundries … A Vision for You edition

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Courtesy:The Dark Blue

And here we are back around again, the beginning of another week. And hopefully this week will prove to be very promising in many areas.

Let Us Pray !!!

For a while, it seemed, that rain was imminent. There were dark clouds rumbling overhead for a while upon setting out for the church. Umbrella in my bag, I set off a few minutes early to make some stops along the way.

When I arrived at the church, a helper was waiting for me for set up, which when worked with two or three people seems to go much quicker. I pumped out an urn of coffee and we went to sit outside and enjoy the evening.

The meeting tonight was well populated. All the chairs were sat, just enough. And tonight we reached the culmination of months of reading from the Book, and after all the reading, studying, working of steps, hearing promises at Step 9, we arrive at the hopeful end of the real studious reading, the Vision for You statement.

We heard a lot of “God talk” go around the room, we also heard the words surrender and abandon. The process of coming into ones own, with regards to God and spirituality takes, for some, a long time.

A good friend happened into the meeting tonight with a new prospect, and we chatted for a bit. And she has come into her own. I can remember, like it was yesterday, how hard she fought for sobriety, and I remember when she had her first spiritual experience in that very room many years ago. And it seemed, in passing she made reference to that experience.

Like I always say, God prefers that room. He makes the odd appearance to folks over the years. I think that St. Leon’s is one of the best rooms in the city for meetings. It has such a long and hallowed history over the last 50 years.

*** *** *** ***

In these last few pages of reading all the reading we did and the work that followed comes back around in summation to prepare us for the world around us. Needless to say, completion of all the steps takes time, as does ones acceptance and surrender to the God of our understanding, which also takes time.

Did you know that there are 182 promises in the Big Book.

At some points in the book as we read through the steps, there are certain promises that are attached to certain steps, like Steps 5 and then up in Step 9.

A vision for you is the summation of all the promises, and sends the reader away with hope and gives us direction of what we should do every day to stay sober. But it states in the book that:

“We know what you are thinking. You are saying to yourself: “I’m jittery and alone. I couldn’t do that.” But you can. You forget that you have just now tapped a source of power much greater than yourself. To duplicate, with such backing, what we have accomplished is only a matter of willingness, patience and labor.”

And on the next page we come full circle.

“Our book is meant to be suggestive only. We realize we know only a little. God will constantly disclose more to you and to us. Ask him in your morning meditations what you can do each day for the man who is still sick.

The answers will come, if your own house is in order. But obviously you cannot transmit something you haven’t got. See to it that your relationship with Him is right, and great events will come to pass for you and countless others.

This is the great fact for us:

Abandon yourself to God as you understand God. Admit your faults to Him and to your fellows. Clear away the wreckage of your past. Give freely of what you find and join us. We shall be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit, and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny.

May God bless you and keep you – until then.”

We read these 164 pages of the book, and we arrive at the sentence that says: We realize we know only a little … God will disclose more to you and to us.

There is that word “GOD” and He’s going to disclose more to us, and with all these people out here, how many things will be disclosed???

Another speaks about not being able to transmit something you haven’t got !

When you walk into a meeting, by your works you shall know them, and by their spirit, all that you have will be made known to your fellows. People have their “signs above their heads” like I have written about. Some, over time get it and some have it, and some want it.

You know right off when someone “has it” and if it looks right and good, maybe someone else will “Want it.”

I guess the founders assume by now that one has had that crucial spiritual experience, and has found a God of their understanding. Because we arrive at the “Abandon yourself to God, as you understand God” we should at least know who that is, or we are on the way to finding out who that is in our own ways.

This chapter ends in hopeful words, of what we have studied, what we have learned and what we shall find if we stay on the path.

“You will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny!”

I leave you with a story about one of my friends.

Many years ago he came into the rooms. Got the book, and read it, and came away with a “no” to God and this is a cult, and I just can’t bring myself to change enough to work the program correctly to the best of his abilities.

Went out – came back – went out – and so forth.

Hit his bottom again, and phoned his father in Eastern Europe. Dad flies all the way from there to here to see and visit with the son. Dad has stopped drinking and is in the program, (yes, there are rooms in Eastern Europe) who knew???

So, son asks dad how did you get sober … ?

And his answers was: In A.A.

It was at this point that our young man came in and is now more than two years without a drink. He, among a few chosen others, I count as my friends. We are part of each others lives. And we help each other in many ways. This story resonates with me for some reason and it is the second time I heard him recount this story at our Sunday meeting.

We have all been blessed to pass this way. And I am grateful for all the folks who come and spend time with me, with us and with each other.

More to come, stay tuned …